3 Reasons for High Blood Pressure That Have Nothing to do With Salt
Over 6 million Canadian adults have hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. That is nearly 20% of the entire adult population, making high blood pressure is one the leading public health concerns we face. It is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and even dementia and other neurological conditions, and a process that we modulate!
High blood pressure is generally referred to as a lifestyle disease, meaning that lifestyle interventions and dietary tweaks can shift our biology in impactful ways, reducing risk for- or helping to manage existing hypertension.
Often times we hear that salt is the culprit behind high blood pressure, and that in addition to medications, low sodium diets are the fix. This story is not entirely complete and we know that stress, insulin resistance and nutrient deficiencies play a greater role in the onset of high blood pressure than salt alone.
The Other Side of The Salt Story
It is not the table salt we add to our food that is responsible for hypertension. In fact, salt is needed for health and wellness, in disease management and in disease prevention. There can be a salt connection to high blood pressure, but it is not always a given and there are other elements to consider.
Typically, when salt levels are having a negative impact on blood sugar- it is because the ratio between salt and potassium are imbalanced, or as we will see, insulin is too high.
Reducing salt is generally not the answer (unless salt is coming from processed foods)- the answer is often in increasing dietary potassium
Our favorite potassium rich foods: sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, bananas, spinach, avocados and spinach
Beyond improving the salt to potassium ratio, we have a tool box of natural strategies for hypertension because the mechanisms that drive increases in blood pressure are influenced by daily habits and lifestyle factors.
The Stress Connection
The connection between high blood pressure and stress is frequently observed in a clinical setting is continuously being validated by the ever-expanding research on the subject. We also see when stress is an underlying factor in the development of hypertension, non-pharmaceutical interventions such as mediation, acupuncture, biofeedback and even sound therapy are effective strategies for normalizing blood pressure.
So, what’s going on?
One physiological manifestation of stress is an increase in blood pressure. This occurs because of the hormones that get produced in states of high alertness. These hormones cause the blood vessels to constrict, which makes it harder for blood to flow through. We can see this in the short term, with long-term changes to blood pressure regulation when stress is chronic in nature.
High blood levels of insulin, known as insulin resistance is a well-known risk factor for the development and progression of hypertension. Insulin is the hormone that regulates our blood sugar. When we don’t have regulated blood sugar, insulin is produced in higher amounts.
High insulin levels are a stress on the body and it causes the body to go into a state known as ‘fight or fight’. When the body is in the state, the stress response is kick started and the hormones that constrict the blood vessels are released.
In the presence of insulin resistance, sodium metabolism goes wonky and this can increase blood pressure. Taking this back to the idea that sodium inherently does not cause high blood pressure, we can see that sodium isn’t the culprit- rather it’s the interaction between sodium and the environment of the body.
Fix the environment, and the negative effects of sodium become null.
Lastly, insulin resistance numbs the sensitivity of receptors that are responsible for regulating blood pressure.
The last risk factor we’re going to look at is the role that certain nutrients have in regulating blood pressure. Nutrients are information for the body, and they have specific roles that tell the body how to act. When it comes to heart health and specifically hypertension, there are several nutrients that are needed to keep the processes that regular blood pressure.
The primary nutrients that are needed for blood pressure regulation are: magnesium, CoQ10, vitamin D, certain b-Vitamins.
We can get these from eating a whole foods diet that is rich in vegetables, greens and healthy fats. We can also ensure our body is getting the nutrients it needs from targeted supplementation. Our tried, tested and true way to do this with heart health in mind is Dr. Klein’s heart health formula!
Dr. Klein’s Heart Formula
Healthy Heart Plus is a formulation of cardioprotective nutrients including therapeutic levels of CoQ10 and magnesium, that help to stabilize blood pressure along with insulin levels. Healthy Heart Plus is a unique formulation as it also has nutrients that help to support the stress process. We love the composition of this formula because it’s easy to take and it is able to modulate all three risk factors for hypertension. FInd our more information here
Hypertension affects many people, and while it is widespread and heavily medicated, adjusting our lifestyle and incorporating heart healthy nutrients can help to normalize blood pressure which protects us from downstream cardiovascular events.
Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP, B.Kin